From Tom Dispatch via truthout.org :
Privatizing the Apocalypse
By Frida Berrigan
Thursday 30 March 2006
Started as the super-secret "Project Y" in 1943, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has long been the keystone institution of the American nuclear-weapons producing complex. It was the birthplace of Fat Man and Little Boy, the two nuclear bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Last year, the University of California, which has managed the lab for the Department of Energy since its inception, decided to put Los Alamos on the auction block. In December 2005, construction giant Bechtel won a $553 million yearly management contract to run the sprawling complex, which employs more than 13,000 people and has an estimated $2.2 billion annual budget.
"Privatization" has been in the news ever since George W. Bush became president. His administration has radically reduced the size of government, turning over to private companies critical governmental functions involving prisons, schools, water, welfare, Medicare, and utilities as well as war-fighting, and is always pushing for more of the same. Outside of Washington, the pitfalls of privatization are on permanent display in Iraq, where companies like Halliburton have reaped billions in contracts. Performing jobs once carried out by members of the military - from base building and mail delivery to food service - they have bilked the government while undermining the safety of American forces by providing substandard services and products. Halliburton has been joined by a cottage industry of military-support companies responsible for everything from transportation to interrogation. On the war front, private companies are ubiquitous, increasingly indispensable, and largely unregulated - a lethal combination.
Now, the long arm of privatization is reaching deep into an almost unimaginable place at the heart of the national security apparatus - - the laboratory where scientists learned to harness the power of the atom more than 60 years ago and created weapons of apocalyptic proportions.
Profane Problem or Prolific Profit?
Nuclear weapons are many things to many people - the sword of Damocles or the guarantor of American global supremacy, the royal path to the apocalypse or atoms for peace. But in each notion, they are treated as idols - jealously-guarded, shrouded in code, surrounded by sacred secrecy. That is changing.
[Continued at : http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/033006C.shtml